Parking garage stories

Parking garage stories

The history of the parking garage is one of necessity:

An early engineering solution for multistory garages was car elevators … These early garages were staffed with professional parking attendants. Drivers weren’t allowed to park their own cars. Some places also offered whole levels just for women so they could feel safe in the structures. And others offered babysitting while drivers shopped.

An exhibit at the National Building Museum puts forth:

As soon as there were cars, there was a parking problem, and cities responded both by finding ways to fit cars into old structures — such as carriage houses — and inventing a new building type made specifically for automobile storage. As the parking garage’s building type evolved, innovative engineers explored the best ways to lay out parking places and create structural systems to accommodate both cars and people.

One can visit the exhibit through July, but get there early if traveling by car — there’s no parking garage. And, according to NPR, the closest one is two blocks away.

[Image: The D’Humy ramp system, first introduced in 1918, features split-level floors to maximize the number of parking spaces. Library of Congress.]